Closet cleaning must be hidden from husband

Sunday, April 3, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:43 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

It’s that time of year again when I move the winter stuff to the attic and bring down the spring and summer clothing.

  I have done a fair job of purging my unused clothing, but I just looked at my husband’s side of the closet. Actually, it isn’t quite a side. It’s more like a corner — and he obviously needs an intervention.

Last year, we went through his clothes together. The idea was to pitch or give away anything that didn’t fit or that was on its last washing.

After two hours of arguing, he agreed to give up three dress shirts and one pair of pants. Everything else was put in the “work clothes” pile. If he became a professional ditch digger, he’d have enough work outfits to last a month.

I tried putting his four pairs of cowboy boots, which were purchased during our country western phase, in the giveaway pile. Somehow they made it back to the closet.

Well, it’s time for action. Since I’m changing seasons, I might as well purge for him. Not only can I get rid of winter clothing, I can also trim his summer wardrobe. He won’t know what’s missing if he doesn’t see me pitch the stuff — thus avoiding any conflict.

I’ve decided that while he’s at work, I’ll whittle away at his pilled and stained T-shirts a little at a time. And I’ll remove his old shoes from the shoe cubbies, starting at the bottom. (Men never bend over to look for something; they just scan the surface.)

I just went through his dress shirts. I found one that I bought for him the first year we were married. It was the one and only time I had a shirt monogrammed. I think 30 years is long enough to get your money’s worth.

I also tackled his sweater collection. My husband has never seen a sweater he doesn’t like, even if it doesn’t like him. There were several that have long been out of style and a few that have “shrunk” over the past few years. I know I can find good homes for them.

Anyone need cords? I have a pile of them in every color. Although I like corduroy slacks, after awhile they seem to grow and balloon at the knee. I also have a small pile of pants purchased sometime in the 1980s. I call them “Johnny Carson” slacks. They have no pleats in the front and the legs are so narrow they could pass for tights. His collection includes several in loud plaids.

I decided to let him keep his selection of black sports coats — mainly because I don’t know which ones to toss. He has a single-breasted, a double-breasted, a four-button and a black blazer. I can’t recall the last time I saw him in any of them, but I know if I remove them he’ll know and pitch a fit.

I then started on his summer clothes. I know he won’t miss the five Hawaiian-themed shirts that have all been worn only once. A couple of these were gifts from our kids, the others I purchased for summer cocktail parties.

I also removed at least two dozen pairs of shorts. Many of them he wore when he played tennis. All of them end several inches above the knee, and he won’t even wear them around the house. But when I tried to pitch them last summer, he balked. He must be sentimentally attached.

Now that I think of it, my husband has an attachment to a lot of his clothes. Most of the battle last year was him reminiscing about where he bought an item or when he wore it. Since none of my clothes last more than two years (mainly because I keep changing sizes), I have never forged an attachment.

I say, let’s take a picture of him wearing the outfit and then get rid of it. I’ll even make an album and put it on his dresser.

I’m finally down to the most sacred part of his wardrobe. I might be able to pull off the purge of most of his old clothes, but God help me if I mess with his jeans. My husband has jeans for mowing, jeans for grocery shopping, jeans for going to the movies … well you get the idea.

Although I’m not about to lose his Levi’s, I don’t get his obsession with this particular type of garment. I only have one pair of jeans. I bought them in 1998 as an incentive to lose weight. They still have the tags attached.

If you have a comment or want to come to our garage sale this spring, please e-mail me at

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